CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) is a cannabinoid acid produced by the cannabis plant. It's one of many cannabis-derived molecules being scientifically investigated for its characteristics and therapeutic potential. The research is quite preliminary, but animal and cell studies have yielded exciting results.

Let's explore CBDA and dive deeper into its therapeutic potential.


Cannabinoids are a class of chemicals that interface with cannabinoid receptors. These receptors appear throughout the human body on many cell types. CB1 receptors are found primarily in the central nervous system, whereas CB2 receptors are predominant in the immune system. These sites make up what is known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a regulatory network that helps maintain harmony among other bodily systems.

The human body synthesises its own cannabinoids (known as endocannabinoids). These molecules—anandamide and 2-AG—serve as neurotransmitters within the ECS. Cannabis plants create another class of cannabinoids. Known as phytocannabinoids, many of these chemicals also interface with the ECS to produce distinct effects. They can achieve this because they share a similar molecular structure to endocannabinoids, essentially mimicking their roles within the body.

Scientists have identified over 100 phytocannabinoids so far, many of which display intriguing, albeit inconclusive, medicinal potential. Moreover, cannabinoids don’t interact exclusively with the ECS. In fact, some of them have very low affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptor sites, instead exerting their effects by interfacing with other molecular targets such as serotonin receptors, transient receptor potential channels, the GPR55 receptor, and others.


CBDA is one of the most abundant constituents of industrial fibre hemp[1]. Technically speaking, CBDA isn't a cannabinoid—it's a cannabinoid acid. It originates in the cannabis plant as the precursor molecule CBGA (cannabigerolic acid). The enzyme CBDA synthase catalyses a reaction that converts CBGA into CBDA.

Although CBDA is a primary constituent of high-CBD hemp flowers, the process of vaping, smoking, or cooking changes the molecule into the active cannabinoid CBD. Thus, CBDA is a precursor to the non-psychotropic cannabinoid CBD (cannabidiol). Upon exposure to heat, a carboxyl group ejects from the CBDA molecule—a process known as decarboxylation. This results in the conversion of CBDA into CBD. Therefore, CBDA is only available in extracts and other preparations that haven't been exposed to significant heat. Another source of CBDA is the juice of raw cannabis flowers and leaves.


Now that we know a little more about CBDA, let's explore some of the scientific findings surrounding it.


CBDA may help to reduce inflammation related to a host of diseases by blocking enzymes that catalyse the reaction. The cannabinoid acid inhibits COX-2 enzymes, the same proteins targeted by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Research published in the journal Drug Metabolism And Disposition explored the molecular structure of CBDA[2]. They found that the molecule's carboxylic acid (the part removed during decarboxylation) allows it to block COX-2 enzymes selectively. This trait enables CBDA to carry out a similar action to NSAIDs. Therefore, the cannabinoid acid may help to relieve inflammation and pain.



THC and CBD have been shown to reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting[3], a mechanism that can help to improve the quality of life of cancer patients. CBDA may someday join these cannabinoids to be administered for this purpose.

A paper published in the British Journal of Pharmacology tested the anti-nausea effects of CBDA[4] on shrews and rats. CBDA had a significantly higher potency at preventing vomiting in shrews and nausea in rats than CBD. The cannabinoid acid achieved these effects by increasing serotonin receptor activity.


One of the most extensively studied effects of CBD is its ability to reduce seizures[5] associated with treatment-resistant forms of epilepsy like Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. In fact, the FDA has approved synthetic CBD as a treatment for these very conditions. Human trials and famous anecdotal accounts of its success have drawn significant attention to the cannabinoid.

CBDA has also been shown to exert anti-seizure activity[6]. Research published in Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience posits that CBDA achieves these effects by interfacing with serotonin receptors. Interestingly, CBDA binds to the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor with 100-fold greater affinity than CBD.


Cannabinoids are not a cure for cancer by any stretch, but certain molecules do seem to exert beneficial effects on the spread of the disease; and CBDA isn't the first cannabinoid to display promise herein. A paper published in the journal Toxicology Letters documents a study that investigated the effect of CBDA on highly invasive human breast cancer cells[7]. The molecule managed to prevent the migration of cancer cells, leading researchers to conclude that CBDA could have future therapeutic use in this arena.


Although these results are exciting, they don't necessarily reflect CBDA's actions in the human body. High-quality clinical trials are required to better elucidate what the cannabinoid acid is really capable of. That said; it would be irresponsible to say that CBDA doesn’t show any potential. On the contrary, it seems that the future of this cannabinoid acid is bright and encouraging.

External Resources:
  1. Cannabidiolic‐acid synthase, the chemotype‐determining enzyme in the fiber‐type Cannabis sativa https://febs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com
  2. Cannabidiolic acid as a selective cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitory component in cannabis. - PubMed - NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  3. 1805TiPPilot and definitive randomised double-blind placebo-controlled trials evaluating an oral cannabinoid-rich THC/CBD cannabis extract for secondary prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) | Annals of Oncology | Oxford Academic https://academic.oup.com
  4. Cannabidiolic acid prevents vomiting in Suncus murinus and nausea‐induced behaviour in rats by enhancing 5‐HT1A receptor activation https://bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com
  5. Long-term cannabidiol treatment in patients with Dravet syndrome: An open-label extension trial. - PubMed - NCBI https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  6. Cannabis Therapeutics and the Future of Neurology https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  7. Cannabidiolic acid, a major cannabinoid in fiber-type cannabis, is an inhibitor of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell migration - ScienceDirect https://www.sciencedirect.com
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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